Volkswagen bosses are opportunistically using changes to UK pension funds to hand down a total of £1.4m of costs to Bentley workers, said Unite the trade union for UK automotive workers.
The German auto giant, still beleaguered by last year’s emissions scandal, is taking advantage of changes to the contracting-out of staff pensions to pass down the £800,000 cost of rising employer’s national insurance contributions to 1,300 members of the defined benefit pension scheme. This is in addition to the 1.4 per cent personal national insurance rise for each member, equating to a further £600,000.
The proposals follow government changes to state pensions, which will see the employer’s National Insurance (NI) contributions increase by around two per cent per year. In response Volkswagen plans to hand this cost down to employees of its Bentley subsidiary, by forcing staff to pay an extra two per cent of their salary into their defined benefit pension scheme.
While the new legislation comes in to effect this month, Bentley workers will be forced to pay the company’s additional two per cent change from 1 May 2016. Unite is calling for the company to hold a genuine consultation with staff and work with the union to look at other ways for these charges to be off-set.
Tony Murphy, Unite National Officer for the automotive sector, said: “Bentley Motors has remained a success story despite its parent company’s problems. There is no doubt that Bentley can afford to pay its own NI costs without expecting hardworking staff to foot the bill.
“What we’re seeing is a cynical attempt by Volkswagen to take advantage of these pension changes to help off-set the costs of the disastrous emissions scandal. Bentley workers didn’t cause Volkswagen’s crisis, so it’s absurd to expect them to pay for it now.
“Unite calls on the management of Bentley and Volkswagen to drop these unfair charges and work with us to find alternative ways to off-set these pension charges.”
For more information contact: Ben Norman on Ben.firstname.lastname@example.org or 07525 590 075
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.